INTERVIEW: Entrepreneur Jamelia Donaldson talks start-up business and her Black British Business Award nomination

I first interviewed Jamelia Donaldson in January 2017 after meeting her at an African diaspora business event. She launched Treasure Tress, a product discovery service in November 2015, now it has grown to become a staple component of the UK natural hair movement.

Treasure Tress caters for people with afro/kinky and curly hair. In July this year, Jamelia was nominated for a Black British Business Award (BBBA) in the Entrepreneur Rising Star category, so I caught up with her to find out what’s been happening since we last spoke.

It was announced in July 2019 that Jameila was a Black British Business Awards finalist
Credit: Steve Dunlop

I found out I was selected as a finalist for a BBBAward…
When I was abroad and  got a call from the BBBAward team.

Being a finalist is amazing…
And being acknowledged for hard work is a huge honour and I’m very grateful.

I don’t know why they selected me over other people, but I guess it’s because…
I managed to make my transition from the corporate world in asset management, to the start-up world, have grown the business to where it is now and provided opportunities for others along the way.

The BBBAwards are so important because…
When you look at the statistics of the number of black-owned businesses that get funding, it’s embarrassingly low. This translates into the recognition that black-owned business get which often isn’t that great. Having something created by black professionals which recognises black-owned business is extremely vital.

Credit: @aadenuga.photography

I launched my business…
When I was 23 years old. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, even as a child and I’ve always been a natural leader.

I feel like Treasure Tress needs to exist because…
It does a great job of celebrating, educating and elevating black women in Europe and making them visible. Watching mainstream media, you would think there are hardly any black women in Europe. Even brands a speak with are surprised there is a strong black community in Europe, they’re unaware of the size and strength of the black community outside of America.

Treasure Tress now reaches beyond Europe…
We serve 26 countries globally and have customers in Australasia, the Caribbean and Africa.

We’ve expanded into other avenues by…
Having the Teen Experience and most recently launching our She’s Obsessed podcast, where black British women share their diverse careers and business stories. It helps other see our journeys to ‘the top’ are different and ‘the top’ is not a definitive place. We also have live events and help bloggers build their platforms so they can work with brands.

Credit: @_oliviaema

We’re different from our competitors because…
Even though we are an online subscription box service, we also invested in building an offline community from the start and nurtured our brand partner relationships. These combined are the most successful elements of any business.

The business has grown how I expected…
And I’ve created a team of seven creative and intelligent black women that I needed. Between 2017-2018 our revenue increased by more than 1,000%, but there is of course always room for improvement.

Transparency is important and…
I’m open about how I started and run the business, so that other women have the insight they need to do their own thing.

Panel speakers at a She’s Obsessed podcast event
Courtesy of: Jamelia Donaldson

The hardest thing I’ve had to overcome was…
Getting over mental barriers and limitations I put on myself. I’ve trained myself to be solution-focused and build out my network, this was transformational for me. I didn’t happen overnight, I read lots of books, listen to podcasts and meditate daily.

Having a network is key…
Because you need to have people who can help accelerate your business, personal development, cheer you on but also give constructive criticism.

I draw inspiration from many different people…
I’ve met or watched their content.

I unwind by going to the gym…
The days that I don’t go, I find I get stressed really easily.

I’m reading...
Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem: A Memoir

I’m listening to…
The school of Greatness podcast by Lewis Howes – it’s one of my favourites.

You can find Jamelia here.

UPDATE: on 5 October 2019 Jamelia won the Entrepreneur Rising Star award at the BBBAward ceremony in London. Congrats Jamelia!

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Snippets of an African legacy

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